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A Gift of Fatherhood

A GIFT OF FATHERHOOD

A young father-to-be was pacing back and forth, wringing his hands in the hospital corridor, while his wife was in labor. It was their first child. He was tied up in knots of fear and anxiety. Beads of perspiration, dropping from his brow, revealed the agony of his suffering.

Finally, at 4:00 a.m. a nurse popped out of a door and said, "Well, sir, you have a little girl." He dropped his hands, became limp, and said, "Oh how I thank God it’s a girl! She'll never have to go through the awful agony I've had to go through tonight."

Seriously, it's tough being a father. Today, we honor those men who take the responsibility of fatherhood earnestly. Even though this is a day when fathers usually receive a gift of some kind, I want to remind fathers about a gift they should give—a gift of fatherhood—a gift of themselves.

It is very difficult being a man in the 21st century, because there is so much confusion about what it means to be a man. Men have been feminized in many ways by society. Today, men do things, dress, act, and think in ways they never would have when I was a kid. The men who surrounded my upbringing had endured the Great Depression and World War II. They were strong and dependable. They worked hard, maybe too hard, for they also did not have much time to spend with their kids or to attend church. Hard times had conditioned them to focus on work.

Nevertheless, good or bad, they were a role model of what it is to be a man who loves and provides for his family. Today, many children do not have a role model, a father, to follow. Television, movies, and the media are no help. The days of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best are gone. From the media, boys and girls learn what a man is from gangsters, rap singers, thuggish athletes, movie actors, feminists, and homosexuals.

Regardless of what intellectuals say, dads are important to children. Ninety percent of the men and women in prison did not have a dad or had a dysfunctional father. In one large prison, they gave out over a 1000 Mother’s Day cards for the prisoners to send to their mothers. At the same prison on Fathers’ Day, only 6 inmates asked for cards to send to their fathers.

Dads are special people. It has been said that almost any man can father a child, but only special ones can be a dad. Dads can be a step-father, an adoptive father, an uncle, a grandfather, or a man who mentors and loves children.

Fatherhood is God’s purpose for men. God created the family. It consisted of Adam first and then Eve. God told them to be fruitful and increase in number. Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel, Seth, and many more sons and daughters over his 800 years of life.

Genesis 1:27-28
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

God set the standard for the family: one man, one woman, and children. God set the roles and responsibilities of each member so that the family and society could thrive.

Today, men—and families—are under attack. Men are told they are the problem in the world and should act more like women. Also, we are told that a normal family can consist of two men and children or two women and children. Without our permission, children are being taught this in school. The entertainment industry is sending the same message. Just about every show on TV has either a homosexual character or the subject matter deals with homosexual activity. The few shows on TV that don’t deal with homosexuality will make fun of the traditional family. The fathers in the shows are shown as stupid, crude, and dysfunctional. It is the same in most commercials. Our children are learning that fathers don’t matter and parents don’t deserve respect. Because of the efforts of media and the turning away from God, we are seeing (even in some churches) an increase in abortions, unwed mothers, divorces, and homosexual marriages.

Because of the hate speech law in Canada, it is now illegal for pastors to preach that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination to God. Here in the United States, we have hate-crime laws that some people want to interpret to mean the same thing. Do not be deceived by political incorrectness! Here is the New Testament truth:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Fathers, we must not cater to this anti-Christ and anti-family movement. It is sending people to Hell.

We must stand and be the men and fathers God created us to be to show the world what is good and right. It is difficult to stand against feminism and political incorrectness, and we have given in to these movements far too much, resulting in the societal mess we are in. If we don’t stand against it, no one will, and our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

It is interesting, on live TV shows and sporting events you often see people holding signs saying “Hello Mom” or hear athletes being interviewed say “Hello Mom.” Why do they not say “Hello Dad”? Is it because we are not taking time to be fathers who are involved in our children’s lives? Perhaps our priorities are not in the right order. What should that order be?

Matthew 10:37-38
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Jesus is saying that we must put Him first. He comes before our spouses, our children, our jobs, our possessions, and our pleasures. Our priorities should be: God first, spouse second, and children third. That is the formula for success.

Notice, you are not one of the top three priorities. So men, who comes FIRST in your life?

1 Timothy 2:8
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling 

This text describes men who have an open and intimate relationship with God. The phrase "lifting up holy hands without anger or quarreling" speaks of men who have confidence in their relationship with the Lord and have no shame or need to argue with anyone about it. They also share a close fellowship with other men who have the same relationship with Jesus Christ.

Such a man doesn't come strutting into God's presence, but comes with holy hands, hands that have been humbled and cleansed of sin. He has been transformed from a prideful man to one who is dependent on God. This is a man who has an openness and a love for Christ. He is filled with the Holy Spirit, and knows that he is accepted by the Father, Almighty God!

This verse is also a call to a father/son relationship with God. We may not have had an earthly father, but from our Heavenly Father, we can experience a father’s love and learn how to be a great father. We can learn how to love and protect our family. From our Father, we can receive His grace and power to lead our family through every difficult circumstance.

SECOND, to be a great father, we must make our wife our very next priority. If you want to win your children’s respect, love their mother.

I’m not talking about how the world describes love. Love is patient and kind. It is not irritable, resentful, nor insisting on its own way. Love bears all things and never ends. God’s Word tells us how to love our wives:

Ephesians 5:25-33
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Husbands, we are to love our wives in the same way that Christ loves us. Christ loves us so much that He laid down His own life for us. Through the shedding of His blood, we have been made holy and blameless. We have been united with Him and made members of His body. That is how we are to love our wife. We are to lay down our life for her.

Husbands, we are to lift our wives up not put them down. We are to share the Word of God with them lovingly, caringly, and gently so they have understanding, wisdom, and grace to be changed by the power of the Word into the woman and wife God intended them to be.

If you want the respect of your wife, love her as Christ loves His Church. You may be sitting there thinking, “You don’t know how my wife constantly nags me.”

Jesus could say the same thing about each of us.

So much of the time our prayers to Him are selfish and nagging. Does Jesus complain? Does He stop loving His Church? No! Jesus continues to listen to us and to love us. Try listening to your wife, sharing the Word with her, praying with her, and you will see her respect for you grow.

Husbands are to care for their wives and to provide for their needs in the same way that Christ provides for our needs. One thing she needs is your love. Husbands, how often do you tell her that you love her? Better yet, how often do you show your love for her by helping her around the house or with the kids?

Husbands, you reap what you sow! If your wife is not respecting you, look at what you are sowing. If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, then you need to water your own “lawn” with love.

Then it will look and be more attractive.

Men, when you married your wife, you became as one person with her. “Becoming as one” means that you no longer function independently. Your wife is a gift from God and you will be wise if you function as one body.

Becoming one also means that we are married for life and our marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. All Christians in the world belong to one body. That body is the body of Christ and Jesus is the Head of the Body. By washing with water through the Word, our minds are transformed to think like Jesus. Jesus saved each one of us and brought all Christians together in one body for the glorification of the Himself. Therefore, glorify Christ with your marriage.

Fathers, our THIRD priority is our children. How we relate to the Lord and how we relate to our wife is the example we set for our children.

Children learn by example. Our children learn by watching us and they will become the type of person that we are. They will act like we act. Therefore, one of the best ways to correct the behavior of your children is to correct the example you are setting for them. If your children see you love your wife and how the wife respects her husband, then both of you will teach your children to love their parents and respect their authority.

Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Notice, fathers, what it says. We—not mom, not a Sunday school teacher, not a preacher—we must start training our children from birth to be obedient and to love the Lord. We must show them by our actions that we, too, love the Lord and obey what He says.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Dads, you should be the one that leads your child to Christ, not someone else. Christianity is not a religion; it is a lifestyle, an intimate relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We demonstrate this lifestyle and faith by what we say and do. By watching and listening to us, children learn what we really believe, not what we say we believe. Simple, everyday events can be opportunities to teach our children about God.

For example, one day a father was watching his young son play in his sandbox. Someone had placed a large rock in the middle of the sand box. The young boy tried to pick it up but it was too heavy. He tried to roll it but couldn’t. He even lay on his back and tried to push the rock with his legs, but that didn’t work either. The boy said, “Dad, I have tried everything and I can’t get this rock out of my sand box.”
The father replied, “Son, you haven’t tried everything.” The boy said, “Dad, I did try everything. I tried to pick it up, I tried to roll it, and I tried to push it, but nothing worked.”
The dad bent down and lifted the rock out of the sandbox and said, “You see son, you didn’t try everything. You didn’t ask me to help you!”

What an opportunity to teach your child that you often ask your Father in Heaven for help and your child can do the same thing. Furthermore, you are also willing to help when he asks for it.

So let’s apply this example to your state of affairs. Maybe your home situation is rocky. Your marriage is on the rocks. Your children are throwing rocks at each other and at you. You’ve tried everything you can think of and you are tempted to leave. Have you gone to our Heavenly Father and asked for help? Have you reached out to your Christian brothers for support? If the devil has put a rock in your sandbox, don’t struggle; call upon the LORD. God is always there, waiting for you to call on Him.

Being a father is a huge responsibility. What we do as a father will impact generations to come. Therefore, to be a good husband and a wonderful dad, ask your Father in Heaven for grace.

If you realize this morning that you have failed or are failing as a dad, there is hope. First, confess you have been wrong, repent, and ask God for forgiveness. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you grace to die to all pride and selfishness and fill you with love. Then, ask your wife and children to forgive you, and humbly accept the blame and responsibility for the problems in your home. Tell them what you will do differently as you let God lead you and guide you to become a successful father. If you are sincere, you will be amazed at the support they will give you.

The last verse of the Old Testament gives us a promise and a warning.

Malachi 4:6
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

Without Jesus Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are doomed to fail. The best we can do is to raise worldly children who will be self-centered, just like us. That is the curse. Our land is cursed because of ungodly fathers. Break that curse by repenting of your sin—your independence from God. Let God turn your heart to your children, regardless of their age or even if they are not born yet.

If you have never given your life to Jesus Christ, you have no grace or power to be a godly father. Confess Jesus as the Son of God and the atonement for your sin upon the cross. Then repent and follow Jesus in baptism—dying to self and being born again of the Holy Spirit. Your family will notice the difference and they will be blessed. So will you!